Community Tours Sian Kaan is an eco-tourism organization that provides tours in the pristine Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean (1.6 million acres). What makes this enterprise so special, is that they are committed to sustainable tourism, genuine cultural exchange and providing jobs to locals of Mayan descent. They offer various tours including birdwatching, sport fishing, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling and exploring archaeological sites. One of the most popular tours is a boat ride on mangrove-surrounded rivers. You can even learn how chewing gum is made.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Getting back to nature is romantic, and Community Tours Sian Kaan offers small tour groups and a relaxed schedule.
Kristin's expert tip: Do not forget a hat, sunglasses and biodegradable sunscreen. A long-sleeved, lightweight white shirt is a good idea as well.
This eco-park is part of the Grupo Xcaret family (Xcaret, Xplor, Xenotes, Xoximilco, Xenses and Xavage). Xel-Ha boasts the "largest, most beautiful natural aquarium in the world." You can swim in grottos & cenotes (natural sinkholes) and see local marine life, explore Mayan ruins, jump off the Cliff of Courage, cross the floating bridge, ride bikes or fly kites. There are plenty of other activities and exhibits to keep you occupied for the entire day or you can simply spend your time relaxing in the sun or napping in a seaside hammock. Xel-Ha also features a delicious buffet restaurant and a children's area.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Xel-Ha is a heavenly eco-park where visitors can snorkel, explore, or just float on an inner tube down the lazy river.
Kristin's expert tip: Combine your tour to Xel-Ha with a stop at the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Tulum can be seen in about an hour, so it won't add much more time to the length of your tour.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world, runs parallel to the Yucatan Peninsula. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the only reef that is larger. At the National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos, the reef is closer to the shore than in other areas of the Riviera Maya, and in 1998, this section of the reef became a protected area. Snorkeling tours and scuba diving trips are available from several dive shops in the small, seaside town of Puerto Morelos. It's illegal to swim out to the reef from the shore. To protect the reef, all snorkelers and divers must go out to the reef with guides.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: At the National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos, visitors can explore the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef just a few meters off shore.
Kristin's expert tip: Book a snorkel or dive tour. Individuals are not allowed to swim out to the reef on their own. You must go with an accredited guide.
Tulum boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. El Paraiso Tulum Beach Club is located only a kilometer from the Tulum Mayan ruins site. Arrive at 10 am when they open and spend the day on a lounge chair, sun bed or a hammock. Order drinks and food from the bar/restaurant and enjoy happy hour at sunset. This is a perfect day at the beach! If you don't want to leave, you can also stay at El Paraiso in one of their 10 rooms.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: El Paraiso means "paradise" and El Paraiso Tulum is exactly that.
Kristin's expert tip: Ask around and set up a short snorkeling trip. Your guide will take you right from El Paraiso to the nearby coral reef.
To get away from it all, spend the day on Isla Contoy, an uninhabited island that is a nature preserve. The island is approximately 26.5 miles from Cancun and can easily be visited on a day trip. Isla Contoy is filled with various species of birds, some live on the island year-round, while others are migratory. Sea turtles lay eggs on Isla Contoy each summer. Tours are given by biologists who live on the island in order to study the flora and fauna, and they normally stop along the way to allow people to snorkel. On the island, there is a beach barbecue of fresh fish. While waiting for lunch to be served, you can explore the island or simply relax on the pristine beach.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Isla Controy is a preserved natural tropical island paradise. Only 200 people are allowed to visit each day.
Kristin's expert tip: Only 200 people are allowed to visit Isla Contoy each day, so book your tour early.
Cenotes, or natural sinkholes, are a phenomenon unique to the Yucatan Peninsula. These pools, some completely underground and some open, are connected by an underground river system and are filled with cool fresh water, perfect for escaping the hot Caribbean sun. There are so many different types of cenotes that both divers and snorkelers can find the perfect one to explore. Cenote Dos Ojos, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is shallow on one side and deeper on the other and is great for snorkelers of all ages. Cenote Chikin Ha, located approximately 12 miles from Playa del Carmen, is the first in a system that connects countless cenotes through miles and miles of underwater passages.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Cenote Dos Ojos is literally a doorway to the underground cave system on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Kristin's expert tip: If you don't like crowds, visit a family-owned cenote like Cenote Azul, which is located just south of Puerto Aventuras.
It only takes a 15-minute boat ride to travel to one of the most popular day trip destinations near Cancun, Isla Mujeres. The island's popularity is largely due to its dreamy beaches and laid-back island feeling. You can book a tour with one of several companies who provide lunch and drinks. Those willing to go it on their own can catch a water taxi or ferry to this tropical island paradise. The downtown area is a charming mix of shops and restaurants. Rent a golf cart, circle the island and visit Punta Sur, the easternmost point of the country of Mexico, then head to a beach club on North Beach for lunch, cocktails, sunbathing and swimming.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Isla Mujeres is a tropical island paradise. It's small, charming, and only a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun.
Kristin's expert tip: Stop by the Turtle Conservation Farm to see baby sea turtles. It's a very small attraction, but worth a visit.
Tulum is a relaxed bohemian beach town located 2 hours south of Cancun by car. Imagine a spectacular white sand beach, the aqua-blue Caribbean Sea and swaying palm trees straight out of your dreams. Now add tropical drinks and local fare to the picture and you're at rustic yet elegant Akiin Beach Tulum. Lounge on a beach bed and order refreshing drinks and gourmet Mexican and international food from their extensive menu. Feel good about your choice considering Akiin's commitment to protecting the environment. If you're engaged to be married, consider Akiin for an unforgettable wedding on the beach.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Akiin Beach Tulum is elegant yet rustic, and Tulum is basically heaven on Earth.
Kristin's expert tip: Akiin now has a few cabanas if you'd like to stay, but you'll have to book online or simply show up because this place is so low-key that they don't have a receptionist.
Le Blanc Spa is a beautiful oasis, a relaxing escape from the real world. Upon arrival, the spa concierge will rest a warm towel on your neck, and as you breathe in the aromatherapy and let the music envelop you, your worries will fade away. Before your chosen treatment, try some hydrotherapy, which will stimulate and further relax you, or take a sauna with the essence of your choice. Next, indulge in one of the spa's many massages. The 80-minute, four-hand Kukulcan Mayan Massage is a highlight. When it's over, enjoy cucumber water and fruit or cookies in the serene spa lounge.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Le Blanc Spa is the cream of the crop, and they feature various couples massages and treatments.
Kristin's expert tip: Get a garra rufa or "doctor fish" pedicure in Le Blanc's salon, which is part of the spa.
If you're looking for romance in Cancun, you'll find it on the Columbus Lobster Dinner Cruise. The Spanish Galleon Columbus will tour the calm waters of Nichupte Lagoon while you watch the sunset and listen to the smooth sounds of a live saxophone player. Next, sit back and cuddle with your partner and gaze at the twinkling lights of the Hotel Zone. An open bar is included in the price, as well as your choice of surf n' turf, lobster or a vegetarian meal. This tour is perfect for a special anniversary celebration or maybe even a proposal. You and your significant other will treasure the memories of this unforgettable romantic evening.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Lobster Dinner Cruise is the most romantic tour in Cancun.
Kristin's expert tip: Bring a light sweater or jacket. It gets chilly on the lagoon after the sun goes down.